Dead Island: 11 minutes of solid gameplay looks like a better, gorier, undead Far Cry 2. With excellent skull-splatting combat

You see I saw a build of the game about four years ago at the Leipzig Games Convention, and it looked brilliant. Improvised weaponry, a (literally) deep zombie melee damage model, a huge, living open world with different factions of survivors to help or play off against each other, a really malleable storyline… It looked great. But then it went quiet for a few years, and reappeared touting very few detailsbeyond the aforementioned melee combat and four-player co-op. I worried that Dead Island had been retooled to cash in on the Left 4 Dead fanbase that had sprung up since its initial reveal.

But now it seems that I was wrong. This new, 11-minute slab of gameplay looks like exactly what I was originally excited about, but deeper, cleverer and prettier.Watch, and thenI shalldiscuss.

So yeah. Camps of survivor NPCs toally yourself with or ignore? Check. It looks like there’s going to be plenty in the way of main-story and side-quests knocking around, and crucially it seems that things are going to be really freeform in regards to the missions you choose take and how you choose to carry them out; one of the things I was most excited about when I first saw the game. It’s nice that mission-holders seem to be clumped together too. Hopefully that means that there’ll be no three-mile wilderness treks to find missions, only to discover that they’re crap or bitch-hard.

Also, that melee combat looks seriously tight and well thought-out. The tactical targeting of zombie body parts should add a load of depth, allowing previously rock-hard swarms of brain enthusiasts to be sliced through once you’ve worked out the correct approach. And while the characters’ limbs look a little Dhalsim-like in proportions, those pokey-kicks should allow some pretty deep spatial management, especially if combined with that backward evasive hop that you can see a few times in the video. First-person melee has always been a bit clunky and imprecise before now, but it looks like Dead Island’s devsdone a proper job on creating a nuanced and dynamic combat system, way in advance of the usual “run forward, spam weapon, run away” model.

Oh, and it all looks very, very pretty. In fact those beach areas are downright gorgeous.

What do you reckon? As enthused as I am, or do you have to see more from E3 before you form a conclusion?

May 23, 2011

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